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China's Xi tells Vietnam not to forget roots of their friendship

BEIJING: Chinese leader Xi Jinping told Vietnam’s second-highest ranking official on Friday (Oct 20) that both countries must not forget the “original intention” of their traditional friendship.

China and the United States have been jostling for influence among Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam, which elevated its ties with Washington to a comprehensive strategic partnership in September, putting its one-time enemy on par with Beijing and Moscow.

China has traditionally strong ties with Vietnam since diplomatic relations were established in 1950, despite a brief war in 1979. Beijing has backed Hanoi’s fight against former colonial ruler France, and later, against Saigon and the United States during the Vietnam War.

“Faced with the ever-changing international situation and arduous domestic development tasks, the two countries must not forget the original intention of their traditional friendship,” Xi told visiting Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong.

Thuong, Vietnam’s No 2 after its Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, held talks with Xi after attending Beijing’s Belt and Road Forum.

In early October, Reuters reported that Vietnamese and Chinese officials were preparing for a possible trip by Xi to Hanoi either at the end of October or in early November, citing people familiar with the plans.

“The two sides should adhere to the principle of joint consultation,” Xi told Thuong, adding that China and Vietnam should capitalise on their geographical proximity and industrial complementarity.

There was no mention of any Xi visit in the Chinese state media readout of their meeting.

On Wednesday, Vietnamese state media reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin had accepted an invitation from Thuong to “soon” visit Vietnam, when the two men met on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum.

In September, US President Joe Biden visited Hanoi.

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